Dr. Shannon Westin discusses the topic of climate change in the operating room with Dr. Anaeze Offodile and Dr. Elizabeth Yates.
The guest on this podcast episode has no disclosures to declare.
Dr. Shannon Westin: Hey everybody! Welcome back to JCO After Hours, a podcast where we get a little bit more intense, a little bit more specific about articles that are published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
My name is Shannon Westin, and it is my honor to serve as the social media editor for the JCO. I'm an associate professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and a gynecologic oncologist.
Today, we are going to be discussing a really exciting paper which was published in the March online JCO. It's a Comments and Controversies piece called, “Prescriptions for Mitigating Climate Change-Related Externalities in Cancer Care: A Surgeon's Perspective.”
I have several guests with me today, none of whom have any conflict of interest.
The first is Dr. Anaeze Offodile, who is an assistant professor in the Department of Plastic Surgery, as well as in the Department of Health Services Research at the University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center. He also serves as the Executive Director of Clinical Transformation at MD Anderson. He is the senior author on the paper, so he will have a lot to offer here.
But we're also accompanied by Dr. Elizabeth Yates, who has the title of clinical fellow in surgery at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, but tells me she's a rising PGY 4 resident, which makes it even more impressive that she is already published on the role of the surgeon in climate change. And so, we're so honored to have her with us today to share her perspectives as well.
Welcome both of you. Thank you for being here.
Dr. Anaeze Offodile: Happy to be here.
Dr. Elizabeth Yates: Thanks so much for having us.
Dr. Shannon Westin: So, I'm definitely someone that has been interested in climate change for some time, and living in the state of Texas, does what I can to rally the political climate here. But I was really intrigued because I never really thought of it in terms of what we do in the operating room.
So, I'd love for each of you to give just a little bit of background on your careers and how you kind of got involved with this idea of climate change and environmental sustainability here in the operating room and in medical care? Do you want to start, Anaeze?
Dr. Anaeze Offodile: Liz can start first.
Dr. Elizabeth Yates: Absolutely! So, I actually came at it from an interesting perspective, I have always been interested in issues of resource distribution and disparities. And when I was in medical school, I started to think about these issues pretty deeply, especially because my younger brother was at the University of Michigan at the same time as I was, studying Environmental Science for his undergraduate and kept nagging in my ear about this problem of climate change and why I wasn't thinking about it as a doctor.
And with my kind of ongoing interest in disparities, I came to realize and become compassionate about the role that climate change will play in driving the existing disparities that we see both nationally and globally. And I realized that nobody was really talking about it yet, at least in the surgical field.
It had started to permeate some of the medicine and subspecialties, but really, there wasn't a conversation in our world yet. It became all the more relevant to me because I did see this dual relationship where not only do the downstream factors of climate change, like heat waves and major storms, impact our patients' access to care and their outcomes, but on the flip side, we contribute to climate change, because the delivery of surgical care, particularly in high-income countries, is so energy intensive and so wasteful. And so, I felt like if any clinician has a role in this space to really lead and change the narrative, it would be us as surgeons.